1. “At no time did Russian planes enter Canadian airspace. But within 24 hours of the [American] president’s visit to Canada last week we did scramble two F-18 fighter planes. They met. The Russian aircraft was approaching Canadian airspace and, as they have done on previous occasions, [the Canadian] sent very clear signals that were understood: that aircraft was to turn tail and head back to its own airspace. Which it did.”
This statement from Defence Minister Peter MacKay during a press conference on February 27th. On the eve of President Obama‘s visit to Canada a Cold-War era Russian long range bomber, the Tupolev Tu-95 or NORAD reporting name “Bear”, was detected approaching Canadian Arctic airspace by NORAD. The plane was intercepted approximately 190 km northeast of Tuktoyatuk, N.W.T. MacKay said the Russians have not heeded his request for advance notice of such near incursions.
“It’s not a game at all … I have personally asked both the Russian ambassador and my counterpart [in Russia] that we are given a heads-up when this type of air traffic is to occur – and to date we have not received that kind of notice.” Story at the Canadian Press, National Post, Globe & Mail, CTV, and Reuters.
2. Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, says the divide between urban and rural Canada is a ‘matter of national unity’ and admits the Liberal party has lost the trust of rural Canadians. “I don’t want to live in a Canada where hope and opportunity only exist downtown.” He pointed to three issues that need to be addressed: what tools farmers need to compete in the 21st century economy, what incentives there should be to recognize the role of farmers in ensuring the agricultural sector is sustainable, and how to encourage young Canadians to stay on farms and become agricultural leaders. Story at the Globe & Mail and Macleans.
3. Six out of ten federal departments reviewed by the Information Commissioner received failing grades when it comes to co-operation and efficiency in sharing information. The National Defence, Border Services, Foreign Affairs, Health Canada, Public Works, and RCMP were all cited by the watchdog. The Access to Information Act requires government documents be released within 30 days of a request from a Canadian. Story at CTV and the Globe & Mail, and speaking notes from the news conference here.